Business turns on Abbott Government

By Leith van Onselen

The Abbott Government’s “open for business” mantra is falling on deaf ears amongst Australian businesses.

Last month, The AFR revealed that the Coalition’s rating had taken a dive amongst company directors, with nearly half of the 500 company directors surveyed assessing the Coalition’s performance in its first year in office as “poor” or “very poor”:

Overall director sentiment fell back to the same level recorded in early 2013 when the Labor government was still in power.

More directors than not now believe that the government does not understand business – almost half of all directors surveyed said the Coalition’s performance has had a negative impact on their business decision-making and about 75 per cent believe it has had a negative impact on consumer confidence.

Today, The AFR is has reported another stinging rebuke of the Abbott Government by the business community, which has grown tired of the Coalition’s dysfunction and complete lack of strategy:

Already, the pre-election commitment to running a “no surprises” government just seems like a bad boardroom joke…

Yet what is depressing business… is how the government has turned an overwhelming election win into such a messy set of problems with no clear or comprehensive strategy to deal with the results.

“We had a round table recently,” says one executive. “And every CEO present said how disappointed they were with Abbott”…

Abbott’s approach to the prime ministership remains a puzzle to most.

…business sentiment against Joe Hockey has hardened again after a few pre-budget months of deciding he might be better than expected. Worse, Hockey is commonly dismissed as personally arrogant with no justification…

Now the simmering and increasingly public tensions between senior ministers and between them and the Prime Minister’s office only reminds everyone of the shocking dysfunction at the heart of the Rudd and Gillard governments.

No doubt Christmas cannot come fast enough for the Abbott Government, whose first 15 months in office has been undoubtedly poor. Its vision is absent. Its policies are incoherent. Its communications are confused and overly simplistic. And it has failed to present Australia with the much needed comprehensive description of the challenge it faces in a post-mining boom environment.

The Coalition desperately needs to turn things around in 2015, or risk losing everyone’s (business’, media’s, and the electorate’s) trust, and possibly becoming Australia’s first one term federal government since the Second World War.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. What drugs are you on UE?


    1/3 is good work in the face of this shocking, treacherous non-support from the Labor communists!

    Make Morrison the new PM of Morristania!

    • Well he hasn’t changed the GST or Medicare yet, so he’s 3 out of 5 on the above list, which is a pass mark in most books.

      Thank goodness Labor has been there to help him keep his promises 🙂

  2. “every CEO present said how disappointed they were with Abbott”

    Bloody hell! As 3d said, he’s terminal.

    The situation is now so dire I can no longer enjoy the Abbott government’s misfortunes, its just depressing. The country needs a reboot, and we can’t wait another two years to elect an uninspiring opposition, simply because they are less bad than the government.

    Malcolm your time is now. Your country needs you.

    • Malcom….Why would Fraser have anything to do with this bunch of clowns – he rebukes them on a daily basis.

      Unless of course, in line with much of what you say, you have made one of the most risible, asinine remarks on these boards ever and are referring to Turnbull…..please, oh PLEASE tell me you mean Turnbull I need a massive laugh.

    • Tony may be terminal, but what can the Libs do?

      Knife Tony? No, that would be too obviously following the footsteps of the ALP they so loudly despise.

      Perhaps they will ride Tony to the next election. It might work out well for them.

      After all, Dubya had 2 terms despite all his clear baggage. So may Tony.

      • Well said. Dubya, and Tony, may just have benefited from sympathy at the very least, from the majority of voters, which might just tend to harden in the face of petty biased attacks from partisan pundits. Actually, O probably benefited from the same thing in reverse. Mean-spiritedness on the part of opponents might actually add support even to a highly imperfect leader.

  3. I’d always assumed the slogan “Open for Business” was just a subtle way of telling people you were willing to take a bribe!

    • That and they are also willing to sell out the country’s citizens even faster than previous Governments.

      • EDIT: On reflection I’m unable to comment on their willingness to sell out our country vs. prior governments. Perhaps the observation that this Government is less discrete (by being ‘open for business’) about selling out our country than prior governments.

    • Yes, the phrase is reminiscent of “Show us the colour of your money”. In days gone by, such language was universally considered crude… But we have evolved.

  4. Good thing we’ve got Bill Shorten who’s more than ready to step up to the plate.

    As he said in a recent interview on 7:30 Report….

    “Australians want more than a three word slogan from their government. That’s why a Labor government under me would Go For Growth.”

    • Shorten is thoroughly uninspiring, and even if the ALP had another Keating leading them, we can’t wait two year.

      Its time for Malcolm.

      • Agreed. But do you think the Tea Party…sorry, Liberal Party is about to let him back?

        Don’t hold your breath.

      • If they get desperate enough. If we were 18 months closer to the election it would be on.

        Also, if Malcolm has a Fightback! style plan in his back pocket, with enough radical free-market reforms, that might get him enough support.

        We desperately, desperately need some VISION at the moment, and Abbott has proven he has none beyond stop the boats and axe the tax.

      • Malcolm snake-in-the-grass Turnbull?

        Sure he’s got a great smile, and the kind of diction that will float my Nanna’s knickers, but he’s just another suit willing to throw away his beliefs and ideals to maintain a tenuous grasp on power. What makes you think he has any vision? He’s certainly not leadership material.

      • Either:

        a) Julie Bishop PM, MT Treasurer, or

        b) MT PM, Morrison Treasurer

        and a roughie

        c) Abbott, PM, MT Treasurer

        Electable. Dead certs and a roughie. Trifecta!

      • Thx Lorax, politics is of little interest to me (but policy is).

        @3d I’ve overheard a few conversations for Bishop PM / Turnbull Treasurer… but that’s just lunch room banter

      • 3d, it can’t be Bishop. I know you’ve got the hots for her, but she’s an ideas free zone.

        We need REFORM with a capital ‘R’ and fast. We need another Fightback! or a first-term Keating. Bishop simply doesn’t have the intellectual firepower when it comes to economics.

        She was tried as shadow Treasurer and flopped. Remember this?

        Economic reform is not something that can be farmed out. It needs to be owned by the new Prime Minister, and Turnbull is the only one who has a hope in hell of delivering.

        God help us all if Abbott is still Prime Minister in two years time.

      • Note I didn’t put Jules in the Treasurer’s role!

        I’m thinking a team that is capable of staying on message, articulating the challenge, free from contamination of Budget 1, having media appeal (Morrison will face some criticism from the SHY asylum crowd), totally unmatchable from the Labor side.

        Jules as PM blunts Shorten’s attacks, removes assertions Libs are anti female, she is tough but fair and remarkably charming, and when relaxed, quite humorous.

        The most important thing is to get leadership capable of dealing with economic challenge, bringing the media on board and successfully convincing the rogues in the Senate to act in the national rather than personal interest.

      • I always feel like I should invert the colours on my screen when I read a minebot post, to properly represent its diamatric opposition to reality.

  5. Abbott never has been and never will be ‘Pro-Business’. He is staunchly Pro-Monopolist. Huge difference. This isnt something he shys away from either.

    I’m not sure why the ASX500 directors are suddenly suprised – considering the vast majority of them are small/medium business. Only the ASX20 (at best) benefits from a pro-monopolist government.

      • Prices are administered, supply and demand is just a simplistic rule of thumb and not some universal truism.

      • Prices are administered

        *Russian accent* Da comrade skppy, and what are new order from central command?

      • MiG-I

        Nope, its a factor of market share, comrade has nothing to do with it.

        Skippy… its actually a free market feature, industry sets the standard thingy.

  6. “and possibly becoming Australia’s first one term federal government since the Second World War.”

    What about Malcolm Fraser after he stole, sorry won government from Whitlam.
    Didn’t that just last one term ?

  7. Rent Seeking Missile

    “Abbott’s approach to the prime ministership remains a puzzle to most.

    “…business sentiment against Joe Hockey has hardened again after a few pre-budget months of deciding he might be better than expected. Worse, Hockey is commonly dismissed as personally arrogant with no justification…”

    Abbott no idea what he is doing.

    Hockey a combination of arrogance, laziness and incompetence.

    Such a disappointment, and especially with the country facing such immense challenges.

    • So its the deaf and the blind leading us mutes into the chasm, must be why no one can hear me scream…

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        I hear you Mig. And I think we’re already in the chasm.

        I just finished reading Lindsay David’s ‘Australia: Boom to Bust’.

        The situation is even worse than I could have imagined. We are so screwed.

        Don’t think there’s anything I can do but position my portfolio for the crunch and wait it out. I suspect you’ve done the same.

        The only silver lining is that when it’s done I’ll be able to buy my own house!

        I believed Abbott when he said in opposition that they’d get things in order and be an adult government. More fool me, I guess I was just happy that we’d have an end to the appalling Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. The PPL idea, and the overgrown baby masquerading as Shadow Treasurer, should have been all the warning I needed.

      • Finally somebody who owns up to voting for that muck. We all make mistakes RSM! The trick is learning from them, right?!

    • “Such a disappointment…”

      Perhaps, but you would have had to actually had a belief that they’d be any good to be disappointed by their performance. I can’t understand why their incompetence has come as a surprise to so many.

      • Rent Seeking Missile

        Yes me too Mig.

        I don’t think they’re there yet, but every day they’re looking more and more like a goat rodeo.

      • I’m with you, AB. I had Abbott pegged as a tin-eared zealot before he was elected. Everything about his past indicated that this is precisely what we would get. Before the election I was calling him “Australia’s dubya”, and some of my friends were oh so smug after the election that ‘their side’ had won. Those people have now gone very very quiet.

        Hockey has been mildly surprising with the extent of his bungling, but that is good, because if he had been more effective, he would have delivered MORE awful legislation than he has been able to. Essentially, he has been ineffective and bumbling at smashing the poor and the young as much as he would like.

        If business has its head screwed on properly, it should know that the wingnut wet-dream of greater wealth disparity (and all the industrialist supermen going off to some perpetual Randian orgy in Galt’s Gulch) will only result in less aggregate demand. That is bad for business.

        I have much more faith in the reasonableness of non-monopolist non-extractive business people than I have in the current crop of Liberal ‘will to power’ fruitcakes.

  8. Its like Abbott thought as soon as he got in power time would revert back to 2001 and everything is roses.

    I remember being at an industry trade show around the time he brought back Knights and Dames and all the other business owners I talked too were just shaking their heads thinking this guy is so out of touch, he is more interested in English traditions then the fact the whole east coast of OZ has been in a recession for the last 3 years.

    but as long as shorten is there, he’s safe

    • “but as long as shorten is there, he’s safe”

      I would have said that twelve months ago but I reckon that not even Shorten can save Abbott from his own complete incompetence and idiocy now.

      • You mean this shorten, or another guy?

        Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has caused a stir by appearing in question time with his hands still stuck in a Chinese Finger Trap.

        “Obviously, this situation isn’t ideal,” said Mr. Shorten, as he addressed Parliament. “But what we need to be focusing on is Mr. Abbott’s failure to produce a fair budget, not whether or not my fingers are currently trapped in a traditional Chinese puzzle.

        Cause this guy can!

      • Labor should go easy on the Government. Any Lib leadership change and pfffft – there goes any hope of Labor winning office.

      • You’re overestimating the depth of talent there 3d.

        Turnbull could do it but would he have the numbers?
        Bishop is devoid of substance and would cause an intense episode of cognitive dissonance amongst the fat bald men.
        Morrison is a certified psychopath. He’d probably be the only one of the contenders less competent than Abbott (I’m not counting Pyne or Andrews as contenders)

      • “Any Lib leadership change and pfffft – there goes any hope of Labor winning office.”


        One possible leadership change and the chance has gone – the question is whether the knuckleheads in the Liberal party room both realise this and are willing to suck up their hatred and elect the guy as leader.

        I’m pretty confident that they’re not that aware and desperate…yet.

    • A lot of the Abbott boosters all thought the world would change when the Libs took over.

      Plenty of stupid people – both rich and aspirational – couldn’t fathom the difference between correlation and causation between governments and good/bad economic times.

      The fact the ALP copped the GFC straight after the heady days of leverage and commodity booms of Costello and Howard entrenched this thought.

      Now it doesn’t matter who is in charge – they are rooted

  9. I think we should not wait until Malcolm comes and fixes everything. It is about time MB community establishes its own political party. Something absolutely new: internet based, open for everyone and transparent. Can someone write an engine for it?

  10. Even funnier, it’s not just business that’s turned on Abbott. Check out today’s The Australian editorial (I had to check that it wasn’t April 1) and Bolt’s tantrum-like response.

    Murdoch must really be shitting himself and his stable seem to be turning on each other.

    Mr Abbott should place himself in the middle ground on climate change policy. Yet he is too eager to please the rabid elements of the conservative base, who do not accept the science of climate change.

    I don’t know who wrote that editorial in The Australian, but wonder how they managed to sneak into the editor’s office and pinch his password.

    • Ha ha ha! ‘Warmists’. The absurd and hysterical ranting of a dying ideology. At this rate, even people who agree with them won’t do so openly for fear of looking like a dill.

      This happened in the US years ago with Palin and Bachmann, and guess what. The likes of them have zero power anymore, because they revealed themselves to be irresponsible, unelectable, fruitcakes.

      This drift into ideological insanity and rabid in-fighting is what is happening with the Liberal loon pond and crazies like Bolt. I really am enjoying watching them turn on each other; schadenfreudegasm!

      Ha ha!

      Edit: I just looked at the comments on the Bolt article. It’s delicious; basically a group of really really really angry culture warriors venting about lefties and greenies. Considering how extreme these loons are, their definitions of ‘leftie’ and ‘greenie’ comprise about 80% of the population.

  11. Neoliberal economics is a political ideology which maifests itself through the language of economics. Its primary, overarching purpose is to justify and advance the class interests of the 1 %,
    Academic rigour, explanatory power and logical consistency are purely secondary. Do neo-liberal economits know this ? I don’t know. But I suspect many do.

    • “Where have all the entrepreneurs gone?”

      Just a quick stab…

      – massive increase in house prices and hence private debt means people are less likely to be able to afford to leave a secure job
      – increase in mortgage lending has lead to a reduction in business lending (I’d guess this isn’t nearly as significant as the first as entrepreneurs probably don’t often use bank funding)
      – 20+ years without a recession has meant that fewer firms have failed and hence the number of new entrants required has dropped

    • Short and sweet Philbest,

      The IPA is a neoliberal think tank w/ connections to the Heartland Institute, that some fall for the uber menschen entrepreneur meme [which is actually out of context with Freuds use] is nothing more than weasely verbal analysis, which then gets comported in to mathematical narratives, and symbols like the IS-LM [ISLM as a Model of Intellectual Control], as irrefutable answers. Philosophical opinions are then presented as Laws [theory at best] and then to ridged Dicta.

      FYI in studying ancient literature and the crafting of narrative, it is objective to understand that 90%+ of it is an attempt to suspend belief aka lower ones critical thinking. In order to allow the craft’er of the narrative to manipulate the audiences mind. Then the subtle process of framing the – chosen reality – can begin.

      Totality of Thought… eh.

      Lastly we have plenty of money in the system, its just a matter of who has the majority of it and what its doing to society.

      Skippy… its largely a distraction from more pressing sociopolitical issues imo. Cheers Phil.

      PS. Corroborating sources upon request, that way I can be more granular to quires and not fun afoul of filters and such.

    • One more little bit, from another conversation I had today with an American who shares your philosophy.

      Entrepreneurs are – NOT – holding up the economy, the government is, as it spends money into existence and creates the laws which – shape – the Market, in the first order of things. Now if you want to discuss the political apparatus, which determines the disbursements via policy advocacy groups like think tanks and lobbyists, well then we might engage with reality based observations.

    • Your ire might be better directed at the – people – that, tell them, what polices to enact. As one can plainly see Tony and Hockey do not have the skill sets to construct real politic.

      Skippy…. Kabuki all day and night long… is… not the bases for informed governance.

  12. Yeh well surprise surprise , I wonder who these business Chiefs voted for? If they voted liberal then I would be very worried if they were running my company, because this was well and truly predicted before the election. If anyone thought that someone who has made a career out of being the master of being mr negative in opposition could suddenly begin a new
    life as mr positive when elected. They went to the election with a negative vision not a positive vision for this country.
    The business leaders got what they probably voted for!